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NFL free agency 2016: Charles Johnson to return to Carolina Panthers, per report

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Johnson "came pretty close" to joining Giants, but will go back to Carolina.

Charles Johnson is going back to Carolina
Charles Johnson is going back to Carolina
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In a bit of a stunning move, after visiting with both the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, nine-year veteran defensive end Charles Johnson will return to the Carolina Panthers, the only NFL team for which he has every played. Johnson officially re-signed with the Panthers Wednesday morning.

A tweet from ESPN's Josina Anderson indicates that the Giants nearly had Johnson.

What this means for the Giants

The Giants reached an agreement on Tuesday to bring Jason Pierre-Paul back to New York. That, however, is just the start of the reconstruction of a defense that was the league's worst in 2015. They need more help. Much more. They also need veteran leadership on the defensive side. Johnson, a captain in Carolina who has 63.5 career sacks, could possible have provided both.

Johnson and veteran Mario Williams, who has reportedly agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins, are now off the defensive end board.

The Giants still have a multitude of options. They can re-sign Robert Ayers, though his price tag is reportedly astronomical. They can look at Dolphins defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby. Miami may also end up cutting loose pass rush specialist Cameron Wake. There are useful but not spectacular players like Adrian Clayborn and William Hayes avaialble.

There is the draft, where analysts have for some time been anticipating the Giants would focus on the defensive line.

Despite his single sack in 2015, a season where he played only nine regular-season games due to a hamstring injury, Johnson seemed like a player who might be a good short term-fit for the Giants. They will now, obviously, have to come up wtih another plan.

Are you disappointed that Johnson won't be a Giant?